Good evening Mr. & Mrs. Catholic, and all you other Christians at sea. We here at the Newsreel will go to any lengths to see that you get stories from off the beaten path tread by other agencies. In this instance, that length is roughly 35 million miles as we travel to the planet Mars. Best to go while it's so close. Now off to press.
DATLINE: MARS - SLIP SLIDING AWAY
Word from the Planetary Society is that the aging Mars exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity could be in for a long winter. Spirit, whose power-collecting solar panels are already covered in dust from summer storms, is in particular trouble as it is further from the equator than Opportunity and will experience harsher winter temperatures. "The negative impact on the rover's energy is a no-brainer." say the scientists, "Spirit's power levels in all probability will plummet to life-threatening levels as winter sets in." We wonder if St. Joseph Cupertino, patron saint of astronauts, would be interested in helping the little guy out through the winter. Not for the machine's sake, of course, but for the sake of whatever good might come from the knowledge provided by the robot's explorations. For those who just have to know, St. Joe earned his patronage by spontaneously levitating, in front of witnesses, on at least 70 occasions. While never acknowledging anything supernatural in the occurrences, the later Church found descriptions of Joseph's slow fluid movements through midair reminiscent enough of an astronaut in space to give him his title.
DATELINE: CALIFORNIA - JOHN O'CONNOR, INSTALL MY OSCILLATION OVERTHRUSTER!
Without the benefits of St. Joseph Cupertino's unique abilities, we'll have to keep working on our own methods of transversing space if we're ever to join our little robot friends on Mars. Fortunately, the wait may not be as long as we once expected. Photonics informs us that The Bae Institute has demonstrated an amplified photon thruster that has the potential to shorten the trip to Mars from six months to one week." While we here at the Newsreel don't have a clue what an amplified photon thingamabob does, we do understand the Catechism where it says "Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others' safety on the road, at sea, or in the air." That means you space jockeys, too. Just because you can go a few bajillion km/s faster now, doesn't mean you can be reckless. Don't make us sick the Methodists on you.
DATELINE: NEW HAMPSHIRE - NOT ONE RED CENT
Of course, speed isn't the only concern in getting to Mars. Space exploration isn't cheap and money doesn't just grow on Banyan Trees (apologies to Arthur C. Clarke). Apparently, next year's fiscal budget prevents NASA from spending money on programs designed exclusively on sending humans to Mars. In response, Chris Carberry of the non-profit Mars Society is once again doing his part to change that. Wired tells us that "In the last two presidential election cycles, [Carberry] says he met every major candidate. He took a short stroll with John McCain, and got kicked out of an event by Al Gore's secret service contingent. He got a surprisingly eager response from Alan Keyes, a blank stare from Bill Bradley, and a vague thumbs-up from Dick Gephardt." Carberry's first contact this election cycle was with presidential hopeful Barack Obama who replied, "I'm inspired by the idea of going to Mars. I'm also mindful of the budgetary constraints. So I won't give you an answer right now." (Wow, and some critics claim this man has no experience as a politician!) Obviously the Catechism can't address every specific situation in life, but it does say that "Economic life is not meant solely to multiply goods produced and increase profit or power; it is ordered first of all to the service of persons, of the whole man, and of the entire human community." So, with proper reasoning to back up the position, a Catholic could favor the funding of space exploration under the notion that it addresses the needs of the "whole man". Since this is the case, one wonders why Wired found the positive response from the overtly religious (and Catholic) Alan Keyes so surprising? Why, one might get the impression that the media doesn't know jack about the religions they criticize so frequently. Certainly that can't be true, can it?
We here at the Newsreel suppose that's just another mystery to be explored at a later date. For now, as the dusk approaches and Phobos and Deimos begin their ascent into the Martian sky, we invite you to relax and enjoy our upcoming main feature, Santa Claus Conquers The Martians. Until next time, as the great Les Nessman would say, if there was a livable atmosphere here, "Good evening, and may the good news be yours."